(Bloomberg) -- Satellite operator OneWeb filed for bankruptcy, becoming one of the first companies backed by SoftBank Group Corp. to seek court protection from its creditors after high costs and stiff competition led to a cash crunch.
The company listed liabilities and assets of more than $1 billion each in its Chapter 11 petition in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in White Plains, New York.
OneWeb had been in advanced discussions earlier in the year for a fresh investment, it said in a statement late Friday. But the discussions fell apart after the coronavirus pandemic sent markets into a tailspin, it said.
The company had been mulling a Chapter 11 filing even as it continued to review possible out-of-court alternatives, people with knowledge of the matter told Bloomberg News on March 19.
The satellite operator said it will pursue a sale process during the court reorganization and is in talks for so-called debtor-in-possession financing that would allow the company to fund its obligations during the proceedings.
OneWeb makes low-orbit satellites that provide high-speed communications. It raised about $3.3 billion in debt and equity financing from shareholders including SoftBank, Airbus SE and Qualcomm Inc. since its inception, according to filings.
It faces high-profile competition, including from Elon Musk’s SpaceX Starlink project and Jeff Bezos’s Amazon-linked Project Kuiper effort, while incumbents in the space include Inmarsat, Intelsat SA and Eutelsat Communications SA.
At the time of its filing, OneWeb owed $238 million to Arianespace, its satellite launch operator, according to the court document. Arianespace, headquartered near Paris, describes itself on its website as the world’s first commercial space transportation company.
The case is OneWeb Global Limited, 20-22437, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York (White Plains)
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